Just when you thought the Phillies were going to start off a season of misery they go out and make a blockbuster trade. Ruben Amaro Jr. just reported on 610's mid-day show with Anthony and Steve that the Phillies have agreed to send Ryan Howard along with Ryan Madsen and Marlon Byrd to San Francisco for stud pitcher Jason Schmidt. ESPN Bottomline is reporting on the story here.
Nerlens Noel was essentially the beginning of The Process.
Acquired in a draft day trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013, he was the last player remaining from when Brett Brown took over as head coach of the Sixers. Drafted No. 6 overall out of Kentucky, Noel missed the entire 2013-14 season recovering from a torn ACL.
That gave Brown the opportunity to work closely with Noel, most notably on his shot.
"Personally, I spent a lot of time with him," Brown said pregame Friday. "To have a whole year where you could help grow his shot. And talk about a total rebuild."
Noel on Thursday was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for a top-18 protected first-round pick, Justin Anderson and Andrew Bogut. The return doesn't seem great, but there are larger factors at play. Noel is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer.
With the emergence of Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor on the roster, the center position was (and still is, frankly) crowded. The chances of the Sixers retaining Noel weren't great. Especially if a team had signed him to an exorbitant offer sheet.
Brown was naturally close to Noel, but understands the business side of the decision.
"I'm happy for him in my heart of hearts," Brown said. "[The Mavericks] have brought him in to grow him to try to be a starting center. That does equal a commensurate paycheck. He will be rewarded if that's the way it plays out.
"That wasn't gonna happen here. It wasn't gonna happen here. And so when you really study salary caps, really study design of teams and really study how to grow a program so you're not caught positionally, it was gonna be hard to allocate that amount of money to a five spot."
Brown got some more tough news when he learned No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons won't play this season. A scan taken Thursday revealed that Simmons' Jones fracture, suffered in early October on the last day of training camp, has not fully healed (see story).
Brown, being the consummate optimist, brought up his experience with Noel in is his rookie season of how a player can still develop despite not getting on the court.
"I'm disappointed for lots of reasons that he isn't going to be able to play," Brown said. "I played text tag with him as he was going to the scan. I felt like when your wife is having a baby, pacing around, wondering, 'What's gonna happen? What's the result of the scan? What's it gonna be? What's it gonna be?' I don't mean to get too dramatic, but there's a level of anxiety that you wonder, 'What is the result gonna say?' And when it came back with the result, it caught me off guard. It really wasn't something personally I was expecting."
Sixers president of basketball operation Bryan Colangelo addressed the media Friday to disclose the news on Simmons. He also explained his thinking behind the Noel trade, which mostly hinged on Noel's impending restricted free-agent status (see story).
Brown was sad to see one of his original developmental projects go, but understood the business side of the decision.
"I thought he did a really good job," Brown said of Colangelo's press conference. "That is the truth. So it's connected with emotion and reality that we say goodbye to Nerlens."
PITTSBURGH – When asked Friday night at Heinz Field whether the Flyers would be buyers or sellers at next Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, Ron Hextall didn’t flinch.
He was adamant he won’t be a buyer. He also intimated he’s looking to sell and that these next two games before the deadline could impact that decision.
“We’ll see,” Hextall said. “We’re not buying. I’ve said that for a while now. We’re not buying. We’ll see where we’re at in a couple days. Like I said, tomorrow’s a big game. I have ideas and we’ll execute them depending.
“We’ll be making calls and getting calls and we’ll see what’s out there and see where we’re at as a team in the standings and make the appropriate moves.”
The Flyers also play Colorado on Tuesday, the day before the deadline.
“It could have some effect, it could,” Hextall said on whether the next two games will impact his decision making at the deadline. “We’ll watch the standings closely and what we’re doing tomorrow night.”
Hextall made his comments Friday night while the Flyers practiced on the outdoor ice at Heinz Field for Saturday’s Stadium Series game against the Penguins.
The most obvious candidates for the Flyers to move at the deadline are defensemen Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto and goalie Michal Neuvirth.
More than 10 NHL clubs have been scouting the Flyers regularly over the past month, home and away.
Hextall has been saying for months he doesn’t like to make decisions based on “small samples.” Yet the Flyers have been very inconsistent the entire season, save for a 10-game win streak between November and mid-December.
They are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Of those seven losses, they have scored one or no goals six times. What does that say?
“It tells me we have to be more consistent,” Hextall replied. “It tells me what we’re capable of and at times we’re not playing anywhere near to that level. That’s been frustrating.
“I like our team. We’ve got some good players, but the consistency part, we have to level that out for sure, especially from now to the end of the year.”
Some NHL clubs – Pittsburgh last season and Chicago this season – have promoted scores of younger players onto their roster. The Flyers promoted Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny this season.
Why not promote some players from the Phantoms right now?
“Not to make us a worse team,” Hextall said. “If we make something happen and if we can bring someone up and we take a lateral move, yeah, that’s kind of where you want to get to.
“That’s why you don’t want to bring kids up, 20-year-olds that aren’t ready to play. You mentioned Pitt there, their guys that helped them last year are all 23 now except for the goalie. Keep that in mind. They were kids, but 23-year-old kids.”
The Phantoms are having a good season. They could go far in the AHL playoffs. Hextall said that wouldn’t prevent him from bringing players up, even if it hurt the Phantoms’ chances.
“Is it a factor? I guess at the bottom,” Hextall said. “My job is to do what’s best for the Flyers. Part of what’s best for the Flyers is having the best team down there that we can have to grow kids in a winning environment.
“That’s part of it. I wouldn’t not bring a kid up that’s ready to play because he’d be leaving the Phantoms, assuming you have a roster spot and cap space and the things that come along with that.”
Jordan Weal (concussion symptoms) could play Saturday Hextall said. ... Konecny (ankle and knee) is ahead of schedule and could be back in four weeks or less instead of six weeks. He skated at least four times this week on his own.